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Australia’s top gold miner Newcrest Mining Ltd says it has signed an exploration agreement for a joint venture with London-listed Greatland Gold Plc.

The joint venture comes a day after Newcrest announced it will buy a 70 per cent interest in the Red Chris copper and gold mine in Canada from Imperial Metals Corp for $US806.5 million.

The joint venture is for Greatland Gold’s Havieron prospect in Western Australia’s Paterson region, Newcrest said in a statement. Rio Tinto Ltd recently discovered some copper and gold in the Paterson.

Newcrest, which will maintain a majority interest in the joint venture, will be the manager of the mining program during the farm-in period with the option to earn up to a 70 per cent stake by spending up to $US65 million over a six-year period after an initial investment of $US5 million, it said.

Newcrest intends to process any ore from the Havieron site at their nearby Telfer mine, the company said.

‘Greatland Gold’s exploration to date has intersected significant mineralisation (nearby) Telfer’s extensive infrastructure and processing capacity,’ Newcrest Chief Development Officer Michael Nossal said in the statement.

The agreement comes at a time of wider consolidation in the gold industry as miners around the globe aim to bolster shrinking reserves to boost growth and take advantage of rising prices.